Knicks finalize stunning trade for OG Anunoby, dealing Immanuel Quickley and RJ Barrett

NBA: Utah Jazz at Toronto Raptors
Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Buzz had been swirling about the Knicks and OG Anunoby for months, and the deal with Toronto has finally come together. In a stunning swap, they’ll be sending RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley alongside draft capital for OG Anunoby and Precious Achiuwa, as New York looked to bolster their wing depth and add a competent backup forward to aid the team on the interior. Trading RJ Barrett felt inevitable after his struggles over the past two months, but dealing Immanuel Quickley will serve not just as a massive blow to their roster, but to the fanbase as well.

The deal was first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, and it’ll be a controversial deal that will certainly raise some eyebrows but also provide an interesting new look to the Knicks lineup.

Knicks Add Much-Needed Defense and Shooting

New York Knicks guard RJ Barrett (9) tries to shoot the ball as Toronto Raptors forwards Scottie Barnes (4) and OG Anunoby (3) defend in the first half at Scotiabank Arena
Jan 2, 2022; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Knicks guard RJ Barrett (9) tries to shoot the ball as Toronto Raptors forwards Scottie Barnes (4) and OG Anunoby (3) defend in the first half at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

OG Anunoby has been the Raptors’ primary defensive wing and has done the job well, handling difficult defensive assignments while also shooting 37.4% from three on six attempts per game, but he hasn’t taken that next step as a player. His on-court impact in Toronto was massive, as they had a +2.0 Net Rating with him on the court and a -6.6 Net Rating with him off of it, but the Knicks are hoping that he could improve even more alongside Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle.

The fit of a defensive-minded wing with an excellent three-point shot alongside Brunson and Randle is obvious, however, there’s one notable criticism of the deal that raises concerns. Immanuel Quickley, who had been an electric two-way guard for the team since being drafted, has had an enormous impact on the team’s roster, as they have a +8.5 Net Rating with him on the court and -3.7 Net Rating with him off of it, and the Knicks will certainly feel his absence in the coming weeks.

In terms of production and talent, Anunoby and Quickley are remarkably similar players, but the Knicks felt as if acquiring a wing was more important than having another guard. RJ Barrett was also included in this deal, and his problems had grown to the point where they needed to move on from him in one way or another. The bet here is that the Knicks will get so much better from replacing Barrett with Anunoby that they won’t feel the absence of Quickley as much, and perhaps they sensed that a departure with IQ was inevitable as he neared free agency.

New York Knicks guard Immanuel Quickley (5) celebrates against the Los Angeles Lakers in the second half at Crypto.com Arena
Dec 18, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; New York Knicks guard Immanuel Quickley (5) celebrates against the Los Angeles Lakers in the second half at Crypto.com Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

New York will also acquire forward Precious Achiuwa, who can play center as well if need be, and provides some depth at the four and five where they sorely need it. Toronto will receive a 2024 second-rounder from the Knicks which they acquired from the Detroit Pistons, but the Knicks will have to prove on the court that they got better, or else this could become an ugly deal down the road.

Both Anunoby and Quickley are on expiring contracts, and the Knicks will have to try to extend him or sign him in free agency. It’s a bittersweet deal for New York, but it finally lands them a player they’ve wanted for an extremely long time. No front office is perfect, but the Knicks’ interest in Anunoby indicates that they may get more out of him than Toronto did, and perhaps he’s the solution for the Knicks at the 3 for years to come.

Update: The Knicks will also be receiving Malachi Flynn in the deal, who will add guard depth to the roster and is averaging 5.1 points a game on 35% shooting from three.